Online food ordering platform Zomato on Saturday said users of its Gold programme will now be able to use membership privileges on food deliveries, a move that has been lashed out by industry body National Restaurant Association of India (NRAI).
Earlier, Zomato Gold privileges were only available for dining out, the company said in a statement.
While Zomato Gold for dining out and delivery is now operational in 16 cities, the programme will expand to 25 more cities by next week, it added.
"We thank our restaurant partners for all the feedback, and users for the love they have shown towards Zomato Gold. It is very much these conversations that led us to put forward a better and bigger Gold programme," Zomato Co-founder and COO Gaurav Gupta said.
Today, Gold drives 25-30 per cent business for its restaurant partners and more and more Gold users are exploring new restaurants because of the programme. It, therefore, makes eminent sense to extend this discovery behaviour to the delivery restaurant base, he added.
"With over 13,000 establishments across 41 cities, Zomato Gold for Delivery brings a wide choice of great restaurants to Zomato Gold members. It is also expected to drive a significant increase in business for restaurants which have signed up on Gold," Zomato Delivery CEO Mohit Gupta said.
On the other hand lashing at the move by the company, the NRAI said that extension of Zomato Gold programme to the delivery vertical is a desperate attempt by Zomato to shore up the sinking fortunes of their flagship programme.
"Essentially, it is now a programme that merely promotes deep discounts on both dine-in and delivery verticals, the cost of which is borne solely by the restaurant partners," NRAI President Anurag Katriar said in a statement.
It is also another instance of Zomato changing the goalpost - Gold was originally launched as a tool to promote the culture of 'dining out' but now it is being extended on deliveries too, he added.
The NRAI continues to remain firm in its belief that Zomato Gold in its current form is an unacceptable proposition, Katriar said.
"We expressed the same unequivocally to the Zomato team in our recent talks," he added.
However, in utter disregard to the viability of restaurant fraternity, Zomato has chosen to extend the programme further to the delivery vertical as well. This will be calamitous to the business in the delivery segment and the NRAI appeals to all restaurants and cloud kitchens entrepreneurs to stay away from Zomato Gold on delivery, Katriar said.
"NRAI is clear that #ZoGoIsNoGo and we continue to #StayLoggedOut," Katriar said.
(Edited by Rekha Balakrishnan)